The Vineyard – Intoxicating Life!

Out today on DVD is cult horror The Vineyard, released by Arrow Video on their ArrowDrome imprint. If you’ve never seen the film, you’re in for a tacky treat. Co-directed and written by actor James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China, Bladerunner, Wayne’s World 2), The Vineyard is the story of prolific wine-maker Dr Elson Po (played by Hong) and his mystical and grisly secret to staying young…

Here’s the deal. Po has made a pact with an ancient God who, in return for human sacrifices and a signature wine made out of blood, keeps him alive and eternally young. The only problem is that Po is ageing faster than before and needs more beautiful bodies to keep in his basement so that when his true age starts to show (in some terrific scenes in which Hong hams it up and has some great facial prosthetics) he can appease his idol. Cue a group of young, nubile actors heading to the island for an ‘audition’ only to become a bunch of grapes.

The Vineyard 1989 7

The Vineyard is one of those ‘so-bad-its-good’ films which manages to be both nonsensical and coherent at the same time. The small subplot which see’s Po trying to make a young actress (Playboy Playmate Karen Witter) his bride seems a little out-of-place, as does the odd bit of kung-fu fighting (never enough and staged far too many feet away from the opposing actors) and the part where it sort of wants to become a zombie film but gives up when it decides it doesn’t want to. Bad points aside (of which there are rather a few), it still manages to be entertaining and incredibly cheesy in a nostalgic way that only 80s movies could be. The special effects are fairly neat (especially the zombie’s half buried in the vineyard which were hideously underused), Hong is a lot of fun and it has a genuinely scary scene which sees a girl throw up spiders.

Arrow have done a good job on the DVD, released with a reversible sleeve of original artwork and a booklet on the film written by Calum Wadell. If you’re after a film for Halloween or your next film marathon at your mates, this is one to buy. Trashy, fun and slightly bizarre.

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